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Fast Break
DAVID SABINO
November 20, 2006
Here are the NBA's hottest starters
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November 20, 2006

Fast Break

Here are the NBA's hottest starters

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THE NBA SEASON is just two weeks old, but surprises are already starting to emerge. Applying the SI NBA Player Rating formula (box, below) to each player's early-season numbers reveals that the consensus preseason No. 1 still rules; the fantasy future of the Trail Blazers may not be as bleak as first thought; and you would have been better off (at least for the first couple of weeks) drafting Zach Randolph, Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson than Kobe Bryant, Shawn Marion and Dwyane Wade. Here are the formula's 10 most productive players overall, as well as the top sophomores and rookies (through Sunday's games).

Top 10 Overall
A few surprises, but not at the top: the King reigns

PLAYER, POS., TEAM SI PLAYER RATING
1. LEBRON JAMES, SF, Cavaliers 66.0
More than just a scorer: He ranks in the Top 25 in points (28.0) and assists (6.5) per game

PLAYER, POS., TEAM SI PLAYER RATING
2. KEVIN GARNETT, PF, Timberwolves 63.8
The game's most consistent fantasy producer just keeps rolling along: 23.3 ppg, 11.2 rpg

PLAYER, POS., TEAM SI PLAYER RATING
3. YAO MING, C, Rockets 62.7
The main reason for the Rockets' early season resurgence (5--2), he's averaging 27.3 ppg

PLAYER, POS., TEAM SI PLAYER RATING
4. VINCE CARTER, SG, Nets 62.0
Scoring at a 29.8 ppg clip, but his most impressive stat is his .500 field goal percentage

PLAYER, POS., TEAM SI PLAYER RATING
5. ZACH RANDOLPH, PF, Trail Blazers 61.4
After a stellar preseason he's nearly doubling his career scoring average (27.3 to 14.7)

PLAYER, POS., TEAM SI PLAYER RATING
6. MICHAEL REDD, SG, Bucks 60.6
League's leading scorer shot up the charts following his 57-point performance last Saturday night

PLAYER, POS., TEAM SI PLAYER RATING
7. GILBERT ARENAS, PG, Wizards 60.3
NBA's sixth-leading scorer (28.2 ppg) despite netting only seven points on opening night

PLAYER, POS., TEAM SI PLAYER RATING
8. DIRK NOWITZKI, PF, Mavericks 59.2
Dallas has struggled but Dirk hasn't, hitting 50.5% of his field goal attempts and 46.7% of his threes

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